The King River cafe in Oxley (near Milawa, where Brown Brothers winery is) at the top end of the King Valley is a fine place for lunch. My girlfriend and I recently made it our first stop of a weekend spent visiting cellar doors to taste and buy some of the best examples of the region’s distinctive Italian and Spanish varietals.
Combining wine tasting and driving requires sensible precautions and restraint, and a solid lunch is essential. I ordered a rich slightly spiced cauliflower soup and my girlfriend chose the stack of rösti fingers with house sweet chilli chutney. These are so delicious!
My girlfriend then chose the duck with house fennel beetroot pickle and vegetables – carrot, zucchini and cauliflower. The combination of the duck with the fennel beetroot was magic. I chose what I called the ‘surf and trotter’ – pork belly with scallops and vegetables – carrot, zucchini and cabbage. This was fabulous. The plates were emptied with minimal conversation.
After two such substantial mains we dared only share a dessert – the ginger creme brûleée – which was also flavoured with cardamon. It was a light and refreshing end to a fantastic meal.
With both mains under $30, the total of our meal (including a jar each of the fennel beetroot pickle and the sweet tomato chutney) came to exactly $100. This represents excellent value, and we were particularly impressed with the prominent use of their own condiments in the dishes.
If you’re heading north, Oxley is just before Wangaratta and the King River cafe is a lovely place to stop for lunch. Later in the weekend, as we chatted at cellar doors, we mentioned where we’d eaten and got a nod of approval from some of the winemakers, so the King River cafe seems to have a good reputation among the locals.